Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Salt Shakeup

There may be changes coming in the salt business following the announcement by the German K+S Group that it will be selling its Operating Group Americas operations during 2020. Branded as  Morton Salt in the US and Windsor Salt in Canada, the company has 32 mine and production facilities in North America and 13 in South America.

Most relevant to eastern Canada are the mines in Pugwash, NS and the Magdalen Islands, Quebec. Both facilities move product by water and form part of the chain of bulk cargo sources that keep ships profitably employed in this region. Unlike coal, aggregates and gypsum, that are dependent on a strong economy, road salt seems to be in constant demand. It can be shipped and stockpiled in advance of need.

The port of Pugwash, NS is seasonal and caters only to small ships nowadays. Desgagnés ships seem to be the most common callers.

Long time regular at Pugwash was Amélia Desgagnés ex Soodoc (broken up in Turkey in 2017).

The Magdalen Islands salt facility can accommodate Seaway size ships and has had a long term contract with CSL to use their Salarium (ex Nanticoke) since 2009. However that ship was laid up at the end of 2019 Seaway season, and appears to be destined for the scrappers. It moved from its Toronto layup to another layup berth in Montreal this week. Built in 1979 at Collingwood, the ship has entered another decade, meaning an extensive refit if it was to contine in service.

With a rare grain cargo for Halifax Salarium took a break from hauling salt. It likely picked up gypsum as a backhaul.

Salt's corrosive properties are notoriously hard on ships and ten years in the salt trade will certainly have taken their toll. A forty year old ship is also a rarity, although frequent freshwater assignments to the Lakes would have done the ship no harm. 

A post last year summed up the ship's career:


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